Father starts walk from Kansas to Wisconsin to get justice for son

His journey took him through Muscatine this weekend where TV6 met up with him.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 1:23 AM CDT
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KWQC) - A father is walking hundreds of miles and he says it’s all in hopes of raising awareness for an injustice his young son faced. His journey took him through Muscatine, Iowa this weekend where TV6 met up with him.

Michael Swapsy Sr. walks tens of thousands of steps each day. The Navy veteran can be seen walking along the sides of highways and back roads wearing a GoPro and a backpack dressed with American flags. Each morning he gets up at 6 to walk 15 miles. Sunday marked day 16 of the trek.

“I’m at 342 miles and I got like 230 to go,” he said.

Swapsy said it’s all in hopes of raising awareness for an injustice his-then 8-year-old son, Michael Swapsy Jr. faced back in February.

He said Michael, who has ADHD and anxiety, was handcuffed for 13 minutes before having the handcuffs taken off and having his hands tied up. Michael began spitting so they put a spit mask on him following an incident at school. He said there were six adults in the Principal’s office including the principal, two police officers, the teacher, a psychologist, and the para-educator.

“There were 6 adults in there with my son. For an 8-year-old..I’m still trying to...I still can’t wrap my mind around it being 6 adults,” Swapsy said “It’s incomprehensible to the fact the extent in which they went in order to deal with an 8-year-old. Now understand, the police officer is six-foot-four and 300 pounds and they called for back up..for an 8-year-old”.

Months went by and Swapsy said no justice had prevailed so he decided to take a trip to Kansas’ Capital.

“I’m gonna walk to Topeka and go see the Governor,” he said.

Ten days and 145 miles later..he faced another obstacle.

“I got there [and] they said the governor couldn’t see me,” he said.

Swapsy said it wasn’t until after this tweet went viral that a meeting happened with Governor Laura Kelly and he said that Kelly told him they formed a commission of 15 people from the community that was going to look into the situation. She called him at the end of June and referred him to the school district, but Swapsy said he asked Kelly for a more serious investigation.

“Governor, let me ask you, can you please have the KBI do an investigation on what happened to my son? She chuckled,” he said.

Feeling defeated, Swapsy wanted to do something to raise awareness for his son. He decided to embark on a walk to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to raise awareness for his son and that trip brought him to Eastern Iowa.

“I’m on Route 61 in Muscatine, Iowa,” Swapsy said on a Facebook live Sunday morning.

For him, it’s also a journey of healing. It began in Bloomfield, Iowa where he started getting rides from different police departments once he’s done walking for the day.

“Since I’ve been getting the rides and talking with these guys and hanging out with them and they’re looking at me in such disbelief to what happened to my son. It’s comforting,” he said “until we sit down and begin to talk to one another. It’s going to keep snowballing...I don’t take issue with all police. I only take issues with the policemen that hurt my son.”

Swapsy said it’s also becoming a larger message.

“It’s beginning to morph into something way bigger than me because as a result, I find out how different African-American children with disabilities are treated, you know? And just like mental health in the African-American community, we’re not treated with the same compassion,” he said.

As Swapsy continues to document his trek across the Midwest, he has taken on the hashtag Black Forrest Gump 2020 on social media and is meeting many friends along the way.

Every step is one with love.

“Love is an action word. So it’s not what I say, it’s what I do,” he said.

Swapsy said he’s scheduled to be in Milwaukee in the second week of August. His son Michael is going to be homeschooled as he starts the 4th grade this fall.

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